Kaylinn’s Story: Not sure there’s a place for your gifts in foster care? Think again.

Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn is new children’s book about 344 people working together to solve a big problem and is illustrated by 344 different people who are counting on the power of unity to bring hope to over 400,000 kids in foster care. This is the 5th in a series of posts about just a few of those illustrators.

The book, Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn had been written, and we had begun collecting the 344 drawings needed to illustrate it. Each of the drawings we had collected had been done in Sharpie® and we knew there was still an important piece missing: How in the world were we going to color and shade drawings by 344 different people so that there was some consistency throughout the book?

I talked to Brandie Smith, Chief Operating Officer for CAFO, who recruits interns for our internship program, “Brandie, I know we may have a hard time with this request, but in an ideal world we need a talented artist who is also extremely organized.”

After all, cataloguing, coloring, and uploading this many different pieces of art and keeping all the names straight would be no easy task.  Yes, we definitely needed an organized artist.  This is no insult to creatives, but these two qualities don’t always go hand-in-hand. To be completely transparent, I really wasn’t sure that we’d find one person who could do both.

Within a few short days, I was surprised to hear that Brandie had an interview for me. Kaylinn Freeman (formerly Strock) was a Senior art student at Dallas Baptist University. Her paintings and drawings are truly amazing. She also happened to be working in the University’s internship placement office. Her supervisor came to her and said she had received an unusual request that she thought Kaylinn was perfect for. And while prior to this project, Kaylinn didn’t have a lot of experience with computer based illustration (she was more of a paint brush and canvas artist), it really seemed like her eye for shading and her organizational skills were perfect for the task. Over the next several months, I came to understand just how true this was. She made these hundreds of drawings come to life . . . and managed to keep them all straight.

Now, if we were to ask ourselves to list the expertise and skills needed to address the foster care crisis in our country and advocate for kids, what would we say? We would say social work. We would say law. We would say counseling, physical therapy, education, medicine, public speaking, public policy, administration, and fund-raising.

The list would likely get really long before anyone would say “art student”. But the reality is, Kaylinn’s passion has always been to use her gifts to build God’s Kingdom and she was praying to this end. God said “yes” as He always seems to do with requests like this. Kaylinn used the eye for beauty that God gave her, colored and shaded hundreds of cows, sheep, cats, pigs and fence posts so that kids in foster care will eventually have caring adults step into their lives to speak up on their behalf. Just like the rest of us, Kaylinn isn’t addressing foster care all by herself. But she brought her loaves and fishes before the Lord and trusted Him to do great things. She found her place around the outside of the barn, grabbed a handle and lifted.

So what does this mean for you?

What it means is that there isn’t a gift or skill on the planet that can’t be used to help kids who need families. Whether you are a plumber, an accountant, a truck driver, a writer, a project manager, a lifeguard, or an astronaut, there is a kid or family who really needs you to use your gift and your platform on their behalf. The question is not whether you have something to offer, the question is whether you will hold your gift with an open hand and ask the God of Universe to use it to help the most vulnerable among us.

To learn more about Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn, the accompanying classroom kit materials, and how to find your fit in foster care, go to MoveTheBarn.org.